Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Congestion Charge Public Meeting

Last Thursday evening saw a public meeting take place in Glossop with
regards to the proposed Greater Manchester Congestion Charge.

Although not packed to the rafters as I thought it may have been there was
around 40 people in attendance including a number of councillors from across
Glossopdale and the borough as well as local MP Tom Levitt and County Cllr
Brian Lucas cabinet member for Environmental Services.

The scheme was put forward to us by Roy Newton head of the Greater
Manchester Joint Policy Transport Team and Simon Warburton Team Leader of
the GMPTA (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority) Policy Team who
started off with a presentation outlining the benefits of the proposal.

The presentation seemed to mainly cover the benefits of the scheme from a
Greater Manchester view aside from a few additions made during the

We then moved onto question including a number that had been submitted
before the meeting. The question's covered a good range of issue's around
the scheme particularly around the potential benefits of the scheme for
residents of the High Peak.

One theme that came across in my view at both the public meeting and an
early meeting with officers and members of the sub group was that the
majority of the benefits to the High Peak were either implied and no
definite scheme was yet on paper or would be given further consideration
later with funding support been possibly available from the funding made
available by setting up the charge.

Another element that seemed to show through was a lack of awareness of the
impact that the scheme may have on areas such as the High Peak with a number
of the issue raised been marked for further investigation by officials.

This raises a further concern with the scheme around the cost of officer's
time for these investigations, with any costs from the Greater Manchester
side coming from the 'charge' if agreed but cost for Borough and County
officers caused by this having to be met from existing resources.

The meeting finished with a vote of those present (and willing to take part)
with 5 voting in favor of the scheme and 9 voting against.

The next steps from a local perspective will take place on Thursday when the
sub group will decide its recommendation to the leader of the council, who
will then respond to the consultation on behalf of the council before it
closes on Friday.

In terms of the overall scheme, following the end of the consultation
period, there will be a short period of review before the scheme goes to a
public vote for the residents of Greater Manchester to decide, with all
votes having to be in by the 10th December, with the scheme needing a
majority in favor in 7 out of the 10 Greater Manchester Council Area's.

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